Agony from Madmind Studio
Agony from Madmind Studio is a dark and gritty view of the afterlife. Developed by a small team of nine, Agony is a first-person survival horror game in which the player finds himself having to traverse the depths of Hell in search of the Red Goddess. The Red Goddess is said to have created this horrible place, so who better to ask if there’s a way out?
What I enjoyed about Agony’s Hell is how truly disturbing the environments are. When I think about what Hell should look like, what I picture is what was created. Rivers of blood. Walls made of bones and flesh. Lost souls screaming and muttering almost incoherent nonsense. People being tortured beyond recognition. Considering that’s what I was looking for in this game, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Not to mention, it’s absolutely rife with nudity. After all, who needs clothing in Hell?
Places to Hide the Bodies
Graphically, Agony is dark – more literally than figuratively. Even with my in-game gamma cranked and my computer’s brightness turned up, I still had a hard time seeing where I was going while playing in a completely dark room. This is only an issue in some areas, namely tunnels. There are a lot of wide open spaces that are filled with gorgeous and blood-curdling visuals. The NPCs could have used a bit of a touch-up, especially compared to the demons encountered.
Several Wilhelm Screams
As for sound design, this is a game meant to be played with proper headphones or surround sound cranked way up. Some of the sound effects are a little cheesy, with gore effects sounding like they were ripped right out of the first Devil May Cry. The atmospheric audio is where this title definitely shines. The voice acting of the damned that don’t have any actual dialogue lines is superior to those that do, and some of it was a little reminiscent of the Psychos in the Borderlands series.
The lore within Agony is particularly appealing. Notes are found throughout Hell, giving very biblical insights of this tainted world. Load screens are also filled with quotes about Hell from the Christian Bible and the Biblical Apocrypha. If anything, it adds more realism to some, as these are centuries-old quotes.
This is How the World Ends
That’s my full laundry list of things I liked about Agony. I tried to find the silver lining everywhere I could, but in reality, it just wasn’t enough.
Agony is barely playable. Movement feels as if the player is wearing several layers of mittens over their controller hands. It’s clunky and cumbersome. With the little to no direction the game gives you to advance, a lot of time is spent clumsily faltering around, seeking the next objective.
The game also heavily advertises these particular demons with giant vagina faces. When I first encountered these blind creatures, I thought “Great, maybe avoiding them will be like dealing with the Clickers from The Last of Us.” Holy Hell, was I ever wrong. You can take one step in their general direction and these things will beeline it straight to you and rip you to shreds. Of course, death is only the beginning, as it only releases your soul to go and possess another vassal for movement. This is just another awkwardly done mechanic to add to the list of control issues.
Not with a Bang but with a Whimper
For a game funded by Kickstarter in 2016, Agony had a lot of hype around it. It looked like a horror game to shake the genre, adding more theology to the mix than the usual offerings. Unfortunately, playing through Agony was a hellish experience in itself. I don’t know how the developers will be able to atone for their sins.
Agony is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Agony below. Viewer discretion is advised.